Friday short snappers, again


Hey. Another Friday. Another round of short snappers. Ready, set, go.

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While waiting last night for The National to come on (Laura was pretty much asleep and the Blue Jays were losing badly) I flipped around the dial for something to watch for 10 minutes.

I landed on The Bachelor Canada.

OMG. How does crap like this even get on television? Is it just me?

Seriously, I was literally slack jawed with awe over how bad this show is. Purile, superficial, utterly lacking in any redeeming entertainment value beyond watching as you would watch a hydrogen-filled dirigible burn over your neighbour’s house.

In an era of women making strides in all sort of areas of society from government to law to business, this show is simply galloping backwards with every stupid trick it can muster, demeaning to women on every imaginable level. Continue reading

Another turn of the page


Just when you think the Rob Ford story has run its course, it takes another stunning turn.

News that Toronto’s mayor is battling a malignant tumor in his abdomen was shocking, surprising and for many, upsetting. The guy is the dad of two young kids and whatever else he is in life, he will be a father first. Being a parent will always be first. So on that score alone, you have to wish him well.

At the same time there’s an interesting debate churning away in Toronto media circles about people not showing the Ford family enough respect and privacy during a difficult time. I wish the guy well. I hope he gets better for the sake of his family, and his own well being.

But count me among those who think his illness is not a relevant political issue. It’s not a shield from a full discussion of the record of the last four years. It’s also not an opportunity to be exploited by opponents. Some in the pro-Ford and anti-Ford camps will, of course, use it both ways. That too is politics sadly.

The Ford record is what it is and politicians are judged on their records. Continue reading

Tough questions, tough answers. Aye, Qui, Nay,Non


Tomorrow is going to be a big news day in the world as Scots vote in a referendum on whether to break with the United Kingdom and become an independent country.

Win or lose, it’s going to be a tough day for the British and the Scots.

Canada last went through this 19 years ago and I know when Laura reads that number she will perhaps gasp in disbelief that so many years have rolled by. We were living in Ottawa – she was an editor at the then-Southam News national bureau on Sparks Street in Ottawa, and I was the parliamentary bureau chief of CP.

Our referendum coverage was quarterbacked out of Montreal and in Ottawa we covered the federalist efforts. It was a dramatic evening and a tumultuous period in Canadian history and the implications continue to play out to this day.

There are differences and similarities between the Canadian votes (there was one in 1980, too, for you youngsters). Certainly the near panic in the UK ranks right now reflects what the mood was like in the federalist inner circle in the final hours of the 1995 campaign. They had no idea if they would win.

I have no idea who will win in Scotland. I think in Quebec, a high proportion of new Quebecers with little affinity for leaving Canada saved the federalist day. Scotland has no such voting block – most of Scotland is white; immigration is low. Continue reading

Knowing when . . .


Whether you are Saku Koivu or a kid from around the block, saying goodbye to hockey is never going to be an easy day.

When Pad was little – too little, obviously, to know any better – his favourite team was the Montreal Canadiens and his favourite player was Saku Koivu, who last week announced his retirement after 18 NHL seasons.

Patrick’s favourite jersey was a Habs replica. He had a blue helmet to match the trim. And he had Koivu’s poster on his bedroom wall.

It took months of relentless psychological terrorism but eventually, I broke his will and he became a Leafs fan. But the infatuation with Koivu was always there. In the late summer of 2001, Koivu was diagnosed with cancer – and by this time Pad was full-on in the Leafs camp.

In fact he had played a scrimmage between periods of a Leafs-Kings game at Maple Leaf Gardens and another at the then-new ACC between periods of the Leafs and Avs. But Koivu stayed on his wall. Continue reading

Turning on the furnace


I didn’t want to do it, but I did.

On Saturday morning after another chilly summer night – it’s still summer, folks – I woke up to find the temperature on the main floor of the house was a balmy 18 degrees. Now, 18 degrees in the middle of March if you’re outside in the sun feels plenty warm.

But at 8a in September in your kitchen, it’s cold. I could easily fend off 18 degrees but for two reasons. First, Chris was coming home and he has far fewer layers of flesh than me to ward off the chill, and second, we have central heating so that we don’t have to be cold. Enough said. Furnace on for 20 minutes.

Sunday morning the house was just as cool but Chris was happily sleeping under a duvet and quilt and the next ice age would not have fazed him. And I was heading out the door for somewhere even colder, so I didn’t really care.

The house league minor peewee evaluation skate started at 8a on Sunday and ran until 6p. Because the skaters are usually sent out with the stronger kids and new kids first, you can usually get away with watching the first hour, as a red coach, to scout your final three draft picks. Continue reading

End of week — more short snappers


End of the week and I have nothing to say. So here are some little bitty items that may, with care and feeding, grow into full blog posts some day . . .

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Rob Ford is out of the mayors race because of a tumor in his abdomen. This story is still unfolding but it appears that the mayor may now intend to run for his old council seat and his brother may take his place on the ballot.

Fascinating. I guess.

I have never met Rob Ford but I do know he has two young children. For that reason alone, I hope he gets well. But being ill doesn’t change the fact that he is an alcoholic, drug-abusing, racist, misogynist, lying disgrace. He has a lot of work to do on those things.

He doesn’t deserve to be mayor but I wish him well in dealing with whatever is wrong.

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The Mississauga Steelheads play the Erie Otters in an OHL exhibition game at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on Sunday. Continue reading

Why the Franklin discovery matters


The remains of one of the ships of the Franklin Expedition from 1845 to chart the Northwest Passage has been found — if you are Canadian and did not already know this, you deserve congratulations for tuning out.

(Side note – lots and lots and lot of coverage call the demise of the mission ill-fated. I think if I had been one of the 129 men who froze, drown, succumbed to scurvy or otherwise perished, I’d suggest it was a tab beyond ill fate. A dying alternator in a rain storm is ill fate.)

Many historians are not much short of orgasmic about this development, which at least one has called “the biggest archeological discovery the world has seen since the opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb almost 100 years ago.”

That seems a bit fraught with hyperbole for me, but I’m going to let it slide, given that my guess is that people who wander off to be marine archeologists and the like don’t often get to trumpet big discoveries.

CBC’s The National gave the discovery 13 minutes of treatment off the top of the broadcast on Tuesday night, which, no lie, is likely only slightly less than they would allot to the death of the queen (God forbid.) The Toronto Star and Globe and Mail front pages were artistically powerful commemorations. The media agreed, this is a big deal.

I didn’t really care much for the prime minister sliding into the limelight on this one, if only because it makes be wonder what politics has to do with this, but, meh.

I’m going to side with the people who got excited about it, and here’s why. Continue reading

How was your summer?


One of the things about coming back to work after a couple of weeks off at the end of summer is that inevitably, people will ask you how your summer was because maybe – due to overlapping vacations – you haven’t seen them in a while.

A woman I work with has been away for a year on a maternity leave and I saw her for the first time in months today. After getting all her news, she asked me that question.

Instead of giving a real answer I said, it was OK. Which it was.

I said the best part of summer was having an upfront seat to our boys’ excitement about starting university and being able to not just help them but play a real part in the launch.

That was fun and it continues to be an entertaining experience. SnapChat photos of certain people aboard Theodore Tugboat in Halifax Harbour at a time of day they should not be there, or images of the after effects of a paint party – it is exactly what it sounds like – are nothing, if not entertaining.

I got to NS twice and saw my family and visited friends and . . . these were not the summer days of just a few years ago when the boys were little and we always found a way to find the time to just be a foursome. We’d be exploring some corner of Nova Scotia – not just Cape Breton and there would be beaches and lakes and hot weather and rain storms and bon fires.

And for all the good stuff in my summer it didn’t have any of those particular accessories and on the train ride into the city today watching the distant skyscrapers get bigger and bigger, I realized how much I missed them. Maybe I set my hopes too high. Continue reading

Ray Rice


Most days I’m quite comfortable to admit I’m not the smartest guy in the room. Most people who think they are generally are not, in my experience.

But I have to say the Ray Rice mess (NFL star punches soon-to-be-wife, knocks her out cold, drags her out of elevator) has left me in a quandary.

My confusion has nothing to do with the public vilification of Rice — any man who resorts to physical violence against a woman is scum. He is a person of wealth and privilege and he is scum.

My confusion is all about the handling of this matter and that it took a video of the incident to truly hold the NFL and his team to account for whether they want a violent woman abuser in their employ.

Seven months ago when the original video of Rice dragging his future wife from the elevator appeared, there was outrage and consternation, plus a pitiful two-game suspension and a deal with New Jersey prosecutors to stream him into a special program so he could avoid a criminal record.

Yesterday’s release of the video of the actual *punch* ramped up the outrage to where it should have been from Day 1. The NFL suspended him indefinitely and the Baltimore Ravens released him.

But here’s the part I just don’t get.

What exactly did Roger Goodell and the NFL brass and the police think happened in that elevator in the first place? Do they think something less than a punch resulted in a woman being rendered unconscious? Continue reading

The laundry man cometh


There are standard jokes and rituals that come with having kids away at school. You will have to excuse me for now as all this is still new and fairly interesting for us.

Last night one of those rituals took place for us for the first time — Chris came home from school after seven nights away, looking for his mother’s cooking and her washing machine.

He’s only a little more than 30 minutes from home and he has no classes on Mondays because of the way his schedule worked out so I expect he will be a fairly regular guest at the Sunday dinner table, if not Saturday, too.

And the laundry? Well, that’s a running joke with every family in the history of time who sent kids off to school. Continue reading

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